Union City pharmacy penalized for alleged violations in sale of COVID-19 antigen tests

Wellcare Pharmacy at 3406 Bergenline Avenue in Union City is one of four accused of violations

The Division of Consumer Affairs has imposed penalties against four pharmacies for alleged consumer protection violations in the sale of COVID-19 antigen tests, according to Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

One of the four pharmacies is Khawajarx, Inc., doing business as Wellcare Pharmacy at 3406 Bergenline Ave in Union City. The pharmacy was penalized for offering and selling COVID-19 antigen test kits without the total selling price plainly marked or affixed to the merchandise.

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Others pharmacies cited include: SLV Pharmacy, Inc., doing business as Valley Pharmacy, in Succasunna, Morris County; Sayreville Pharmacy in Monroe Township, Middlesex County; and Sanraj Inc., doing business as Iselin Pharmacy, in Iselin, Middlesex County.

The violations by the four pharmacies cited by the Division involve offering and selling COVID-19 test kits to the general public that were not authorized for at-home use, as well as failing to plainly mark or affix the price of a COVID test to the merchandise. The Notices of Violation (NOVs) are the latest round of enforcement actions taken to protect consumers from those seeking to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID testing, in addition to vaccination, has been essential to New Jersey’s recent return to normalcy,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “While New Jersey residents have joined together in fighting COVID-19, unfortunately there are still some businesses seeking to profit unlawfully from the pandemic. Two years after the pandemic arrived in New Jersey, we still have zero tolerance for such conduct.”

“The Division is committed to enforcing the laws in place to protect consumers from unprincipled merchants,” said Acting Director Sean P. Neafsey. “We will continue to review and investigate complaints to keep the marketplace fair and honest.”

Consumer protections

New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act protects consumers from deceptive conduct, misrepresentations and omissions, and other unconscionable business practices in connection with the sale of merchandise. In addition to the assessed individual penalties that range from $500 to $5,000, the pharmacies must cease and desist from engaging in any practice in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.

To date, the Division has sent 1,961 cease and desist letters to retailers suspected of price gouging and other unconscionable business practices during the coronavirus pandemic, and issued over 100 subpoenas seeking additional information in its investigations of alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.

Previous enforcement actions also include NOVs against a dozen merchants over consumer fraud violations related to COVID-19 with civil penalties totaling tens of thousands of dollars. In January, the Division sent more than 50 warning letters to businesses whose prices for COVID-19 test kits generated consumer complaints.

As infection rates remain low and residents continue to use testing to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Division encourages consumers to stay alert as they consider available testing options including: finding where to get tested in person; making use of insurance benefits; verifying claims of at-home test kits; and researching before buying.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the Division online or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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